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Americorps – FAQ

JOINING THE ACCESS PROJECT

What is AmeriCorps?
AmeriCorps is a national community service program initiated by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. AmeriCorps meets human needs and encourages community development through the activities of program members. It is supported by a partnership of federal and state governments and local community organizations.

What is ACCESS?

ACCESS stand for AmeriCorps Cross Cultural Education Service Systems. We are one of the programs in North Carolina. The ACCESS program focuses on helping immigrant/refugee communities gain better access to human services, build bridges of understanding with neighbors, and become economically self-sufficient residents of our state.

Who is eligible? Is there an age requirement?

To be eligible to serve in an AmeriCorps program, an individual must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident
  • Be at least 17 years of age (with a guardian’s signature)
  • Submit to criminal background checks
  • Have a social security card
  • Have a High School Diploma or GED

Individual positions may require additional qualifications depending on identified service activities.

The ACCESS Project does not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of age, sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

What is application deadline?

We begin accepting applications mid-February and continue to accept applications until all positions have been filled. We encourage applicants to apply as soon as possible to ensure consideration for desired positions.

Do you have to be a UNCG student?

No. Any eligible individual is encouraged to apply.

What do ACCESS members do?

ACCESS members are placed with our Partner Agencies and provide direct services to immigrants and refugees. Members provide employment services (job development, job placement, case management, English language instruction, etc.). Members also recruit, train, and manage volunteers to increase agency capacity. Additionally, members provide disaster preparedness workshops, teach citizenship, provide interpretation and translation services, provide transportation, and help immigrants and refugees with navigating health and human services. Additional activities may be included in individual member service descriptions. See available positions here.

Do I need a car to join this program?

It depends on the service position. Certain positions may require a member to provide transportation or require the use of a personal vehicle. See service descriptions for information on individual positions.

Do I get mileage reimbursement?

ACCESS members do receive mileage reimbursement for trainings they attend, since all trainings take place in Greensboro.

Some positions may require a member to use their personal vehicle. Reimbursement for day-to-day service activities may be provided by the partner agency. Please see the individual member service description to see if that position offers mileage reimbursement.

How long is the time commitment?

ACCESS members commit to completing one year of community service. Our service year starts mid-September and ends on August 31st of the following year.

Can I serve more than one term?

Individuals can serve up to 4 terms with AmeriCorps. Members can only earn up to the equivalent of 2 full-time education awards. Serving subsequent terms with the ACCESS Project will depend on member performance and successful completion of previous term(s). Continuing members (those continuing from year to year) will have to complete a continuing member application and interview. Members who have previously served with the ACCESS Project and would like to re-apply will need to complete the new member application and interview process.

When can I start?

Members must have completed the application process and national service criminal history checks prior to the start of service. Members must also attend the program orientation before they can begin serving at their designated site and/or earning service hours.

Am I able to complete the program early?

Yes. It is possible for members to successfully complete the program early. We have many members who get accepted into graduate school or have other opportunities come up of which they want to take advantage. To successfully complete the program, members must complete the minimum required hours for their position, complete all trainings, and submit all required documentation. Members should discuss plans to leave the program early with ACCESS staff and their site supervisors as soon as possible. If you leave the program early, it will impact the amount of your total stipend, as the stipend is contingent upon active service.

What happens if I don’t complete the program?

Members who leave the program voluntarily or are released from service due to performance issues and have not completed the minimum number of require service hours will forfeit their education award and interest accrual payment benefits. Stipend payments, health and childcare benefits cease when members are exited from the program.

Members who leave the program due to circumstances beyond their control (and have provided evidence of such to the ACCESS program director) may be eligible to receive a portion of their education award and interest accrual payment.

Is the schedule flexible?

Most schedules follow regular business hours. However, members can negotiate their service schedule with their site supervisor prior to the start of service. Changes in schedules must be reported to and cleared by the ACCESS Project director.

Do I get paid?

ACCESS members placed in full-time and part-time positions earn a small stipend, or living allowance. Full-time members are eligible to receive a stipend in the amount of $12,530 for the year. Part-time members are eligible to receive a stipend in the amount of $6,265 for the year. Stipend payments divided into 11 monthly installments. Stipend payments are directly deposited to the member’s bank account and are subject to state and federal income tax.

Can I work another job while serving in AmeriCorps?

Yes. AmeriCorps members are able to obtain additional employment so long as it does not interfere with the member’s service schedule or duties at the site. Full-time members may find it more difficult to maintain outside employment, as they are required to serve 35-40 hours per week.

Does the ACCESS program offer trainings?

Yes. The ACCESS Project provides members with a number of trainings. There is a mandatory two-day orientation at the start of the service year. Additional required trainings will be provided by ACCESS throughout the service year. Please see a schedule of the 2015-16 training dates. Service sites will also offer service-specific trainings, as well as other professional development opportunities.

How do I get selected?

Applicants must submit a completed member application. ACCESS staff reviews applications and contacts prospective applicants for interview. Interviews are conducted in person at the ACCESS office in Greensboro. Skype and/or telephone interviews are available to out-of-state applicants.

After the interview, if an applicant meets position requirements in their service area, applicants are referred to the respective partner agency. An applicant will then interview with the partner agency. Partner agencies make position recommendations to the ACCESS staff. Applicants recommended will be contacted about their willingness to accept a position. If an applicant confirms the recommendation, ACCESS staff will submit the applicant’s background check through UNCG Human Resources.

Once a background check has been cleared, an applicant will receive an official position offer. Once the offer is accepted, the applicant will receive a program acceptance letter.

HOUSING

Does ACCESS pay for housing?

No. Unfortunately, the ACCESS program is not designed to provide housing or housing stipends. Members are responsible for all housing-related costs.

Does ACCESS know of housing resources?

ACCESS members have compiled a list of housing resources in some of the communities where they serve. Please see the list here.

Relocation expenses?

No. Unfortunately, the ACCESS program is not designed to assist members with relocation expenses.

EDUCATION AWARD

What is an education award?

The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is a post-service benefit received by participants who complete a term of national service in an approved AmeriCorps program. For more detailed information, please visit the National Service Knowledge Network at: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award

How much is the education award?

The education award amount depends on the type of position in which a member serves. Full-time members receive a full education award, while part-time members receive half of the amount and quarter-time members receive one-quarter of the amount. For current figures, please visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/amount-eligibility-and-limitations-education

When do members get their education award?

Members are eligible to receive their education award after they successfully complete the program year and have been exited from the program. Members can manage their education awards online at www.my.americorps.gov.

What can the education award be used for?

Members may use the education award to pay back qualified student loans or for qualified educational expenses. For more information, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/using-your-segal-education-award

Is the education award subject to taxes?

Yes. The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is subject to taxes in the year that it is used. A 1099 form is issued for the amount used. For more information, please visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/using-your-segal-education-award/tax

How long do you have to use it?

Members have 7 years from the date of issuance to use the award. Extensions may be available under certain conditions. For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions at the National Service Knowledge Network: http://www.nationalservice.gov/documents/education-award-faqs

LOAN FORBEARANCE & INTEREST ACCRUAL PAYMENT

What is a loan forbearance?

Individuals who are serving in a term of service in an approved AmeriCorps position may be eligible to temporarily postpone the repayment of their qualified student loans through an action called a forbearance. For more information, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/using-your-segal-education-award/postponing

How do I know if my student loan is eligible for forbearance?

The Corporation cannot approve or disapprove forbearance requests; it can only verify that you are in an approved national service position. Only the loan holder can determine your loan’s eligibility and approve a request for forbearance. Some private lender loans or loans in default may not be eligible for a forbearance. You are responsible for verifying with your lender that your student loan is eligible for forbearance based on national service participation. For more information, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/using-your-segal-education-award/postponing

How can I request a forbearance?

You can request a forbearance directly through your loan company (“loan holder” or “lender”) or make the request through www.my.americorps.gov (after you have been enrolled in the program). For more information, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/using-your-segal-education-award/postponing

What is an interest accrual payment?

While your loan is in forbearance during your service term, interest continues to accrue. However, if you successfully complete your term of service, the National Service Trust will pay all or a portion of the interest accrued on your qualified student loans during your service period. For more information, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/using-your-segal-education-award/postponing

How can I request an interest accrual payment?

You can request an interest accrual payment by making your request through www.my.americorps.gov (after you have been enrolled in the program). For more information, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/using-your-segal-education-award/postponing

Is the interest accrual payment subject to taxes?

Yes. The amount of interest paid by the National Service Trust is subject to taxes in the year the payment is made. A 1099 form will be issued for the amount used. For more information, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/using-your-segal-education-award/postponing

OTHER BENEFITS

Is there childcare assistance?

Full-time members are eligible to apply for childcare assistance benefits. Childcare assistance is determined based on income eligibility. Details are provided at the ACCESS member orientation. This benefit is not available for part-time or quarter-time members.

Is there health insurance?

Full-time members are eligible for health insurance coverage that meets Affordable Care Act requirements. Health insurance is available for members who did not have health insurance prior to being accepted into the program OR who lose health coverage through no fault of their own. ACCESS pays the full health insurance premium and members are responsible for co-pays and any additional costs. This benefit is not available for part-time or quarter-time members.

RESOURCES FOR MEMBERS

Are there any resources for new members?

You can find a list of both general resources provided for members by members here.